Windows computers come with a dedicated emoji keyboard. You can toggle this keyboard quickly using “Win Logo + Dot” shortcuts key and insert your favorite emoji in any application. However, besides emoji there are thousands of other symbols that can be very useful. For example, did you ever wonder to how to type an infinity or pi symbol in your documents? In this article, we will explain how to insert almost any symbol in Windows PC with Character Map app.
Unicode Character Mapping
Unicode is a non-profit organization that helps to define the standards for each character that you can type with keyboard. This includes different language letters, special symbols and emoji. There is a unique hexadecimal codepoint for each symbol represented as U+code format. For example, the unicode point for exclamation mark is U+0021 (!) and degree Celsius symbol is U+2103 (℃). Operating systems like Windows will interpret these codepoints using UTF-8 or UTF-16 character encoding and display it as a symbol on applications. Unicode Transformation Format or UTF is the most popular and universal character encoding helps to standardize the symbols display on any application.
|Unicode Codepoint||Symbol Name||UTF-8||Display|
|U+2103||Degree Celsius||E2 84 83||℃|
Alt Code Vs Character Map
Since standard keyboards do not offer a way to type Unicode hexadecimal value, you have to first convert the hexadecimal to decimal value and use with one of the alt keys. However, this will only work when you type the decimal value with number pad. In addition, alt code will not work on all applications or behave differently if the application uses different character encoding method. In order to overcome this problem, Windows offers a Character Map app. This app will help you to find your favorite symbol and allow you to search based on the unicode value or with the description to make things easier.
How to Open Character Map App?
As mentioned, Character Map is an independent app used for inserting symbols in Windows computer. You can access the app using one of the below methods.
Open from Windows or Cortana Search
- Press Windows key on your keyboard to highlight the search box or click on the search box on your taskbar.
- Type charmap and click on the “Open” link by choosing the first option to access Character Map app.
Open from Run Prompt
- Press “Win Logo + R” keys to open Run prompt.
- Type charmap and hit enter key.
Access from Command Prompt or PowerShell
If you are a Command Prompt guy, open it by searching from the Windows Search box.
Type charmap in the Command Prompt and press enter key to open Character Map app in a separate window.
If you are using Windows PowerShell instead of Command Prompt, press “Win + X” keys to open power menu.
Click “Windows”Terminal (Admin)” option to open the app. If Terminal opens with Command Prompt, you can toggle to PowerShell from the title bar as shown below.
Similar to Command Prompt, type charmap and press enter to open Character Map app from PowerShell.
Display of Character Map
By default, Character Map app will open in a basic view when you open through any of the above methods.
You can click on the “Advanced view” check box to see the app with additional options. We recommend using the app with advanced view as it will help you finding the symbols easily.
Using Character Map to Insert Symbols
Here are the options you can find in the app.
- Font – click on the dropdown to select your favorite font from the list. Remember, this is an important selection as the available list of symbols can vary widely based on the font you select. In addition, fonts like Wingdings and Webdings have special symbols that you can only view with these fonts. Changing the font will make the display incompatible and show the symbol as a square box.
- Help – click on it search internet for the help webpage.
- Symbols and characters – scroll and find the available symbol from the list. Click on it to highlight the selected symbol.
- Select and Copy – You can double click on any symbol to select it first. Alternatively, click select button to show the symbol in the “Characters to copy:” text box. After that click copy button to copy the symbol into your clipboard.
Now that you have copied the symbol into clipboard, use “Control + V” shortcuts to paste anywhere on your documents.
Getting Codepoint and Shortcuts
After selecting a symbol, Character Map will show different details that you can use for different purposes.
- Unicode codepoint with the official symbol name. You can view this on the bottom status bar as well by hovering over the symbol after selecting it.
- Find alt code keyboard shortcuts at the bottom right corner as “Keystroke” value. When you need to insert a symbol frequently, note down the keystroke value and use with alt code instead of opening Character Map everytime.
Unicode Advanced Options Group
Finding the symbol in basic view is difficult as you do not see the categories. The best option is to use the advanced view and use unicode options.
- First, click on the “Character set” and choose “Unicode” option from the dropdown list.
- Click on the “Group by” and select “Unicode Subrange” option. This option will be available only for the standard fonts like Arial.
- A new pop-up will open from which you can select the symbol group.
You can search and insert any unicode symbol from the subrange pop-up.
- For example, select “Letterlike Symbols” to filter the symbols from the main app window. Choose any of the letter like symbol that you want to insert in your documents.
- Alternatively, you can type the name of a symbol in the “Search for:” box and click on “Search” button to filter the result. This is the most useful way to get the symbols by their name.
- If you came to know the unicode value of any symbol, type it in the “Go to Unicode” search box. Press enter key to find the corresponding symbol for the entered unicode value.
Character Viewer Vs Character Map
Similar to Windows, Apple’s Mac also comes with a default app for inserting symbols. This app is called Character Viewer and offers additional options compared to Character Map. It combines the emoji panel and Character Map in Windows to make it as a single-point app for inserting any emoji or symbol. In addition, you can find hundreds of font variations for each symbol which you can choose to show the customized appearance of a symbol in your documents.